9 Tips for Preventing Electrical Fires When Doing Electrical Repairs

[fa icon="calendar"] March 28, 2014 / by Home Services Expert

Fire ExtinguisherThere's perhaps nothing we applaud with more enthusiasm at Experts In Your Home than a can-do spirit. At the same, we know that we receive plenty of phone calls from customers who encounter snafus when they try to tackle electrical repairs on their own. We've even come to the aid of a few customers who have unwittingly set off sparks—and worse, small fires—during a repair-gone-wrong.

This is why we believe it is our responsibility to educate our customers about how to prevent electrical fires as they undertake electrical repairs. Some of the tips may seem obvious; others may seem laborious. But rest assured: refresher or not, these tips will keep you and your loved ones safe. Together, they should bolster your can-do spirit with confidence.


Know and respect your limitations

We all have them, and we all should be able to separate a simple, straightforward repair we can handle ourselves from a complex, dangerous job that should be left to a licensed electrician. And that's part of the point, too: all the can-do enthusiasm in the world cannot compensate for the lack of confident skill and ability, especially when it comes to electrical repairs.

Focus on the repair exclusively and eliminate any possible distractions

Electrical repairs can be dangerous as it is; mistakes can easily occur when our attention is focused elsewhere.

Use a good fiberglass step ladder instead of an aluminum ladder

It may cost a little more, but it's worth it because fiberglass is non-conductive. At the same time, invest in quality tools that you will need for electrical repairs, such as pliers, screwdrivers, wire strippers and other hand tools. Your safety is worth the investment.

Unplug a device before you begin working on it

Take the extra step of switching off the power at the circuit breaker.

Identify the circuits

Prevent a fire from starting because of an overloaded circuit breaker by identifying the circuits in the box; a simple labeling system with masking tape ought to do the trick. An outdated circuit breaker box is one of those jobs best left to a licensed electrician. If you even suspect that your box is outdated, call an electrician immediately. The box also should display the amperage of all the circuits to prevent them from becoming overloaded and potentially causing a fire.

Be cautious of where you put cords and wires

Avoid putting extension cords or wires under rugs, over nails or in high-traffic areas

In the case of fire:

Of course, accidents can happen even when you're careful and focused on electrical repairs. If an electrical fire breaks out in your home—or you see sparks coming from a repair in progress—heed the following advice:

Do not use water to put out the fire

If the fire is small—say, an extension cord that is starting to smolder—turn off the circuit at the breaker, unplug the cord and use a fire extinguisher to douse the flames. If you do not have a fire extinguisher, grab a box of baking soda from your pantry or refrigerator and put out the fire.

Call 9-1-1 for help

Leave your home until firefighters arrive for anything but the smallest episodes. Don't try to play hero.

Call an experienced electrician

They can evaluate the situation and tell you what you can do to prevent another incident. For example, you might wish to have an experienced electrician install ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your home that immediately shut off the power when problems occur.

Remember that Experts In Your Home is here to support your best efforts—from offering a quick phone consultation to undertaking the largest electrical repairs. Our Chico, CA electricians are experts in your home. We share your can-do spirit because there is nothing we cannot do for you.

Confused about which electrical repairs to leave to the pros? Download the FREE guide below:

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